The Chicago Fire picked the wrong day to go up against Kasey Keller.
The Seattle Sounders ‘keeper turned in a vintage performance against the Fire on Saturday, cruelly denying Chicago with several spectacular second-half saves. His stops – along with some sloppy Fire defending – were too much for Chicago to overcome, and they left Qwest Field 2-1 losers.
“He played out of his mind,” Fire defender Cory Gibbs (above, second from right) told MLSsoccer.com. “Keller did what Keller does. I’ve known him from the national team; he’s a standup pro and he’s good for those types of games. It didn’t surprise me that he played like that.”
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Keller’s best moment came in the 58th minute. Fire forward Diego Cháves – who slipped one past Keller in the eighth minute – smashed a 10-yard half-volley that looked ticketed for the bottom-right corner of the goal. But the 41-year-old netminder had other ideas, diving to his left to improbably block the blast with his left hand.
[inline_node:333406]Keller also came up big in the 61st and 66th minutes, when he miraculously stopped one-on-one efforts from Chicago attackers Gastón Puerari and Marco Pappa.
“We basically had two or three clear chances, one-on-ones, clear shots on goal and [he stopped them all],” Gibbs said. “Like I said, Keller was Keller – that’s the type of performance and those are the type of saves you expect from a player like him.”
What Gibbs didn’t expect was a sloppy performance from the Fire back four. But that’s exactly what he saw as the Chicago defense – which was playing without starting center back Josip Mikulic, who missed the match with a quad injury – looked a bit disjointed throughout the match.
“We made one or two mistakes that we need to correct,” said Gibbs. “It’s just disappointing – and I told the boys this – that we’ve given up five goals in three games. We need to cut that out. We don’t want to be that team where other teams can just score on us at will. ... The thought of giving up two goals hurts and that’s not acceptable.”
“It was a difficult game for us,” Gibbs added. “It’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t get the result; we had our chances and we just couldn’t put them away. There’s some little things that we need to pick up on.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.
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